1) Progress on the book continues, slowly but slowly. I've got about half the writing done, but am struggling with keeping focused. It's summer. It's sunny. The kids want to play and go swimming. Not to mention I'm trying to work through three or four major projects here at church (good stuff.... but time consuming). Would have made more progress last night, but a group in using the SRC pulled a fire alarm (or I should say a two-year old with the group) and the alarm system kept doing screwy things all afternoon and into the evening. That meant every 30 minutes the alarm company called to let me know that there was a fire at the church when there were no fires. Good gravy... the building is made mainly out of non-burnable substances. In any event, we'll just need to keep the old nose to the grindstone and gut this book out.
2) Part of the problem of book writing is that I'm not much of a writer. In high school, college, and seminary I wrote solely to provide ordered, maximum information. That's what essay writing for exams require. You'd think my writing would improve after years of doing sermons, but I haven't really written a sermon (outside of the six I had to do for our Beeson preaching classes) in over a decade. I found that when I wrote out sermons that I tended to look down a lot, which created issues as far as making contacts with the congregation. Going with a loose outline enables me to stay engaged with the people listening while at the same time forcing me to really learn the scriptural exegesis (fancy word for "in depth study").
Long story short - I don't write much.
To go from not writing much to writing a book is like jumping in the deep end of the pool in full motorcycle regalia - leathers, boots, and the works - and trying to swim. It's not easy. Nothing good is.... but to call what I'm writing "good" might be a tad over hyped. I think the research is pretty decent, but the package the research is in ain't Moby Dick. I'm glad we have a good editor.
3) Bad news for my Alma Mater, Lima Senior High School. The athletic conference they were in collapsed as members joined conferences closer to their home. Now, LSH, facing being an independent (which is a scheduling nightmare) has applied to become part of the Western Buckeye League, a local athletic conference it was once a member of before the school grew so large that it sought greener pastures (namely the Greater Miami Conference, which was made up mainly of Cincinnati area schools). The WBL denied the petition, leaving LSH in a lurch.
Personally I think the WBL has made a huge mistake. Quite frankly they would be a lot better off jettisoning a smaller school (WBL schools can be as small as Div III) or a school further away (like Van Wert or Kenton which are both hour long drives and hence more expensive to maintain as members). Even though LSH is the biggest school in the area, the only sport the rest of the league would have to worry about the Spartans dominating is basketball. The football program fell into shambles a decade ago. The school isn't much more than "competitive" (as opposed to "dominant") in any other sport.
And LSH is kind of our area's Oakland Raiders. It's the team the area schools love to hate. Every time they play a WBL school in the revenue generating sports (b-ball and football) they sell out because the WBL fans show up droves to see if they can beat the "inner-city school". Inclusion of LSH into the WBL makes sense. They should revisit this, pronto.
5) Great article in the USA Today on how a person's view of God shapes their neuro-pathways, and in effect how they view others. The gist of the article is that if you view God as loving and forgiving, you tend to be better adjusted and healthier than if you view God as angry and vengeful. Can't say this is all that big a surprise, but it is interesting that this is becoming an area of study for researchers trying to connect religious belief with brain function. I'll be interested to see the work on this subject as time passes. Should be fascinating.
6) As one of the last fourteen or fifteen NBA fans left in the country you might be wondering why I haven't yet written anything on the Laker's latest championship last night. The answer: still depressed at the collapse of the Cavs to the Magic. No way they should have lost that series. Who hits 48% from the three-point line for a series? Apparently a team that got hot and then promptly went cold in the Finals.
In any event, at least we got to see the Kobe and LeBron puppet commercials...
Too bad puppet Kobe is way cooler and less creepy than real Kobe.
7) We went to Annual Conference last week. To be honest, not much happened. There was preaching, bickering, voting, praying, and lots of ice cream eating. Here are some of my most memorable moments, in no particular order...
- Sue Nilson Kibbey, Executive Pastor at Ginghamsburg, doing a sermon that was about 50% produced by the video production department at her mega-church. Gotta love somebody preaching a sermon encouraging people to think out of the box using technology nobody else in the conference can replicate. I will now light myself on fire.
- Me getting into it with a member of the Good News Movement (conservative wing of the UMC) during registration (that was a heck of a way to kick things off) because he made the outrageous claim that the liberal wing of the church would be able to speak freely while the conservative wing would be muffled by the powers that be. Twenty years I've been going to conference and I can safely say that this has never been a problem. Both sides seem to say their fair share, while those of us in the middle just sit and listen. He fired back that I had no idea what I was talking about, and I replied, "So's your old lady, sissy boy."
Ok, so I made that last one up, but I did tell em to relax. He just went away grumpily.
- Barry DeShetler, former senior pastor to yours truly and current senior pastor at Kettering Christ UMC telling the story of how, as a young Elder, at Annual Conference each year they would present a "conference cane" to the oldest living pastor, and how someday he wanted to get that cane and still be preaching. He plans on going strong into his 70's, and is convinced he could still preach and lead someone 20 years younger "under the table". I believe him.
- Over conversation Bill Lyle of Greenville Evangelical UMC letting it slip that they congregation will, as a service project, will be painting the football stadium at the local high school. Some guys get all the luck.
Church + Ohio + Football = The greatest community service project, ever. They have enlisted over 280 volunteers from the congregations.
- Sue Kibbey explaining why they call them "servants" and not "volunteers" at Ginghamsburg. I was convinced. We'll now be calling for "servants". Makes sense.
- Mike Slaughter (once again, from Ginghamsburg, only he's the Lead Pastor) telling us that in the last election more than 300 people left their church, and how this happens every election year because he won't equate "Republican" with "Christian" in rural NW Ohio. Gutsy.
- Me driving around in our house golf cart (came with the rental), telling anybody who asked where I got the cart that "walking is for suckers".
- Me driving the golf cart constantly getting flagged down by people who thought I was driving one of the free shuttles for AC, and then taking them wherever it was they wanted to go without telling them they were mistaken.
- Bishop Ough asking AC "Are We General Motors?" in his Episcopal Address (one of the most daring I've ever heard). As he related time and time again how we UMC's are too much like GM and what would need to happen to fix it, you could have heard a pin drop. Change is coming my friends. Change is coming.
- All the ice cream cones eaten with various friends and collegues. Gotta love ice cream, friends, and collegues.
8) The boys are swimming for Westside Swim and Raquet Club this summer. It's the first year a Bucher hasn't been a member at Sherwood CC since 1981. Aimee likes the place cause it has a playground and more people she knows. The boys initially resisted the change, but after realizing how many of their friends swim at Westside soon came around. I thought Sherwood was fine, but if my family is cool with it, then so am I. A pool is a pool. Gotta leave here in a few minutes cause we have to make the trek down to Kenton tonight for the meet. Next Monday we go to Van Wert and their indoor nautatorium that's about a million degrees. Whatever. I like to watch the boys swim.
9) Sad news out of Celina... a ,mother of two teenager died of an overdose after chewing on a fentanyl patch provided to her by her husband. Now he's in jail facing a myriad of charges, and the top things off, it was the two children who found their parents passed out in the family room. The family had no apparent history of drug abuse and had ever been in trouble with the law. The community is still in shock.
If you don't know what fentanyl is, it's a drug that's inserted in a patch that applied to chronically ill patients. The drug is absorbed through the skin and can dull pain for up to three days. Nobody really knows why in the world this couple decided doing fentanyl would be a good idea. Did they have a secret drug problem? Was it really a suicide attempt? Did they do it on a lark?
This much we can say, though, sin - and you can't really call illegally buying a fentanyl patch to use recreationally anything else - is a killer. You can shield it from the world, sometimes even for a lifetime but in the end it will destroy you inside out. Unfortunately sometimes when the bottom drops out it can have catastrophic consequences.
Can't think of too many things more catastrophic than a dead mother, an incarcerated father, two reeling teenagers now living with family, and a community groping for answers. Very, very sad. I'm sure every prayer, particularly for the kids, would be appreciated.
10) Been listening to a lot of O.A.R. and Pink Floyd as I write my part of the book. Wonder what that means? I'm guessing it won't appeal to hippies or psychedelic drug users. Must mean the bands write music that's easy to ignore while a guy writes. That's how I wore out my "Genesis: Three Sides Live" cassette back in college. Apparently you can only write so many papers and study for x number of exams before the cassette says "no mas". MP3's have no "no mas" limit. So if you hear me quietly, mindlessly singing, "There's a road outside of Columbus, Ohio...." you'll know what's going on.